By Kevin Collison
The city is planning to reopen Walnut Street to traffic through the City Market on weekdays, reconnecting the original street grid with the goal of bringing more activity to businesses along its east side.
Walnut had been a two-way traffic route through the Market up until about 30 years ago. It then essentially became an access lane to the Market’s interior parking spaces with its entrance off Fifth Street and exit onto Third Street.
Now, the design firm Confluence has been hired by the city to restore its former two-way status with work expected to begin in November and completion by spring 2020. Walnut would continue to be closed on weekends during the City Market’s active season.
“Our goal is to reintroduce two-way traffic and reconnect Walnut through the Market,” said Terry Berkbuegler, senior principal at Confluence.
“One of the major goals also is to strengthen businesses on the east end of the Market.”
Berkbuegler said the return of Walnut to two-way traffic will be designed in a low-key fashion with the route primarily identified by landscaping. The move also will add about 10 parking spaces along the east side.
It would continue to be a pedestrian-friendly place during weekdays when traffic will be allowed. On weekends, vendors still will be able to set up stalls in that area.
Confluence, which is based in the River Market at 417 Delaware, has had an important role in designing the area’s renaissance.
It designed the streetscape for Second Street when it was rebuilt after decades of being a cinder-strewn route for railroad cars.
Confluence also is working with the Kansas City Streetcar Authority and Port KC on plans to build a pedestrian/bicycling bridge as part of a project to extend the streetcar route to the riverfront.
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